News In Brief
For the first time since the latest Middle East violence erupted seven weeks ago, an Israeli diplomat was the target of gunmen in a neighboring Arab country. Vice consul Yoram Havivian was wounded in Amman, Jordan, raising concerns that Israeli nationals are no longer safe even in countries with which the Jewish state is at peace. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
President Clinton's departure from Vietnam was marred by stiff defiance from the leader of the ruling Communist Party. Brushing aside Clinton's call for democratic reforms and political dissent without penalty, Le Kha Phieu said, "the future of the Vietnamese nation is ... socialism [which] will not only exist but further develop." Phieu demanded American respect for his country's monolithic system, said the state holds "the primary role" in business, and cast the war against the US as the cradle of modern Vietnam.
Although out of the country on state business, controversial Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will resign as soon as today, the nation's prime minister said. Federico Salas said Fujimori "does not want to be a destabilizing factor" in next April's presidential election. The embattled president, who stunned the nation in September by announcing his intention to step down, was in Tokyo , reportedly trying to negotiate loans to ease Peru's financial problems. He angered many Peruvians in May by forcing a runoff vote over his reelection that was widely perceived as fraudulent.
Despite his plunging approval ratings and a no-confidence motion to be introduced today in parliament, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori refused to step down as a way out of political chaos. Prospects that the situation could split the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were enhanced when two junior members of Mori's Cabinet quit to support the no-confidence motion, which analysts predicted would pass narrowly.
Responsibility for 17 attacks this year - most of them bombings - that killed eight people in Spain was claimed by ETA, the Basque separatist movement. ETA said it regretted only the Oct. 30 death of a Madrid bus driver whose vehicle was nearby when a car bomb explosion killed Supreme Court Justice Francisco Querol Lombardero. A communique also targeted moderate Basque leaders whom the group accused of "holding back the future" of their constituents by failing to crusade for "sovereignty." It followed an ETA pattern of waiting several weeks before admitting it was behind such attacks.
The Cabinet minister in charge of oversight for Greece's 2004 Olympic Games was fired three days before inspectors were to begin an evaluation of progress toward the event. Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos had publicly criticized the labor-reform agenda of Premier Costas Simitis. As last summer's Games in Australia were concluding, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch warned that the 2004 Games in Athens were in danger because preparations were behind schedule.
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